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My mask was my smile

Some say that everyone needs to be happy with how they look.  I never got that.

How could I be happy with being over 150 pounds overweight and not being able to lose it?

Image by PDPics from Pixabay

I felt so miserable and depressed. But how could I show that to the world?

When I was younger someone told me that you need to decide to be happy. So I would smile and laugh and pretend that I was happy. Maybe looking happy would make me happy.

People said that I was such a positive person. When in reality there was a small amount of time I was actually happy.

I started to find happiness in food.  Chocolate, creamy sauces. While I was eating I was as close to happy as I could be.

Once I stopped eating the I was back to being unhappy.

It was all short lived.

One day I was travelling with work and had been told to take the weekend off and enjoy myself, so I did a sightseeing tour. 

Washington DC, June 2017

It was so wonderful. A beautiful June day, with blue sky’s,  warm weather, the sun was shining.

I had a wonderful time.

It made me think, why was I not enjoying life everyday?  Why only once in a while?

I decided to stop existing, stop only finding a little happiness in food.

I would start to do the activities that I wanted to do once I had lost the weight.  A time that I was thinking would never come.

I really decided to be happy.  To start living my life.  The more I lived and did the activities I wanted to do, the more weight came off and the easier it was to do things.

What activities are you waiting to do? Why wait?

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Is snacking bad?

How many times have you been given advice from someone who has not struggled with their weight?  Sometimes I think everyone I knew had some advice.

Food was the most frequent topic of advice.

Put lemon in your water to lose weight.

Image by klimkin from Pixabay

Remove carbs from your diet.

Don’t eat after 6pm.

Don’t snack.

For years I tried them and had no success.  In fact, I probably did more harm to myself than good.

I would wait as long as I could to eat, then be famished and ate something quick and unhealthy.  Eating so fast that I would eat more than I needed.

I never lost the weight and just kept gaining. The more I gained the more advice I tried.

It went on and on.  If I ate and someone made a comment about whether I really needed to eat it or would it not be better to cut back, I would start to starve myself. Eating less than my body needed to run.

After a few days I would start to feel terrible, until I had to eat.  Then ate too much.

It was after surgery I found out that half a yogurt for breakfast, the filling from half a sandwich at lunch and either half a yogurt for dinner or half a cup of soup was not healthy, or enough to live on.

I was tired all the time, forced myself to keep going until I could not do it anymore.

My dietician said that that was not enough, I still did not listen until I went away on a business trip.  She had said to start enjoy what I ate, and take some time off while away and sightsee.

Me in 2017, Washington DC, USA

I took her advice and ate regular meals, with small healthy snacks between.  I did a walking tour of the town and took the weekend off to see the other sights.

Over 10 days I lost 10 pounds!

I was not hungry over those days and I foods that I really loved.

What did my trip teach me?

That food can help you lose weight. Not eating enough leaves you really tired, but eating too much of a bad thing is not good either.

I also realised that if I am really hungry I will eat more at the next meal, probably more than I need. My choice of food will not be as good either.  So if I have a healthy snack between meals I will not be famished and will be able to make better food choices and eat a healthy amount.

Do you let yourself get so hungry that you overeat or make poor food choices?  What snacks could you have that would help you with this?

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I am scared of lettuce

Do you have a food that even thinking of it makes you cringe or want to run? I do.

Image by lipefontes0 from Pixabay

I had a bad experience once, I ate a chicken Caesar salad.  It was delicious while I was eating it, but I reacted badly to the lettuce.  I know for sure it was the lettuce and not the chicken. Sorry to be graphic but it felt like razor blades going through my digestive system.

From that point on I cannot look at salad the same way.  Even the word salad brings back bad memories.

This is wrong.  Not all salads have to have lettuce, I can live without eating it.  But salad is a whole type of food.

In order to eat healthy I decided to let go of my fear and remove the association I had of lettuce with salad.  Now when I think of salads I think, grated carrots, chopped cucumber, lots of other vegetables, with possibly some fruit.

Image by TheAndrasBarta from Pixabay

I realised that we can sometimes get stuck with a preconceived thought about something, it is our decision to let that hold us back or to free ourselves from it and change how we think.

As with all change it can take time, every time I thought about salads I had to remind myself that salad does not have to have lettuce.  Now I can think of salads, in fact I really would like to try a brussels sprout salad.

Is there any food that you have preconceived notions of?  Can you change how you thing of it?

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Does it have to be difficult?

I am looking at a river with a rock in it.  The water flows around the rock, it takes the easiest path.  That is something I had to learn.

Change does not have to be difficult, we just need to find the right path for us.

Diet, exercise, there have been so many times that I struggled.  That I chose the difficult road, not like the water that flows around the rock.

I would choose extreme diets, or exercise at levels my body was not used to.  

Then fall off the wagon and quit.

I became depressed when the extreme did not work.  Eating next to nothing.  Not losing weight, so eating even less.

Something snapped in me.  I could teach people how to change how they worked so why could I not teach myself?

I would be more like the water. Instead of major change I would flow and make smaller changes finding an easy path around the obstacle.

The first obstacle I had was skipping meals and not eating much.  You may think that is great for weight loss, but food is the fuel that helps our body run.  Without enough fuel our body stores what it can and we are tired.

I needed to fuel my body. With good fuel to help it run.

The next obstacle was exercise.  I needed to stop pushing myself too much. Instead of trying to do 10,000 steps a day and failing I lowered the steps to an amount I could do.

Then after reaching that goal 2 days in a row I increased it.  Instead of increasing it by a lot and then not being able to reach the new goal, I increased it by the number of steps to get to the office toilet and back to my desk.

I could do an extra trip to the toilet each day, or to the kitchen for a drink.

Instead of getting depressed that I could not reach my goals I actually started to get to them, then push them further.

It was exciting, motivating. I could make more changes and soon my life was unrecognisable from before.

I am the water that flows.

How can you flow more?

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Happiness was in food

Life was so depressing, the only thing I found happiness in was food and shoes, maybe handbags.  I would not really look at myself in the mirror, too depressing.

I was afraid to eat in public, people might, and did make comments.  You should not eat that, do you really need it, that is your choice.  

How can people thing that I was happy?  

I was smiling.  All the time.

Each evening I would come home and eat happiness.  Food was where I found comfort, friendship and happiness.

When the meal was done, I was back to being sad.  I felt tied to food, bound by it.

That cannot go on forever.  I deserve to be happy.

Food issues are what held me back.  What are they? 

They are subconscious thoughts that we hold that keep us from making good, permanent changes that will help us to succeed.  Change.

Things we are told or seen or experience as children affect us as adults.

Something as simple as “eat everything, there are starving children in the world who would appreciate it” can make us think we MUST eat everything on our plates, whether we want it or not.

Not being able to eat what we want then as adults rebelling and eating everything we were banned from as children.

Or it could be that we had such wonderful moments at family gatherings eating cake and other party treats that when we eat those things as adults we still remember and feel those feelings.  Happiness.

Would I rather be large and find comfort in food, or be a normal size and possibly be happy all the time?

I sat down one day and decided to start looking at my issues, what were all the thoughts that I had when I thought of certain foods?

Where did those thoughts come from?

This did not take 5 minutes, but was a journey that lasted a few months but was so worth it.

I am not tied to food as I used to be.  I love eating but I make healthy choices and still have a little of the naughty foods but everything is in balance.

I am not anything special, I just found the tools that helped me to break the bonds of issues.    

Learn more about what tools I used on this free 5 day program 

You are worth it!

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I am not perfect

For years, and even now I suffer from something called Imposter Syndrome.  It is really hard to acknowledge this.  I do not see my success, only my failures.

This syndrome is where you criticise yourself and cannot see how good you are at what you do.

For years I was a workaholic, striving to do better. Learn faster, create better training faster than anyone else.  My close friend, who is also a colleague would tell me over and over how I learn faster than anyone she has ever met, and that my standards and quality of work was higher than the client expected.

I never took it in, did not listen.

Why am I telling you this?  

This affected me achieving my goal.  I learned over the years to always look confident and in control but inside I was upset and felt like a failure.

No matter what I was told by the people I was training or coaching, or those who had hired me, I could only see where I needed to improve.

Last week one of my coaches ask the question, what are you afraid of?

That question floored me, I really thought about it.  Was I afraid of something?  Then it came to me. No, I was holding myself back because I was the one who criticised myself the most.

When someone was telling me that I had lost a lot of weight during my weight loss I would reply there was still a long way to go.

When I had lost weight and even yesterday evening someone said I had lost a bit more weight, my reply was not thanks so much, but oh no, that can’t be a good thing.

Self criticism can hold us back from achieving our goals, it can stop us from changing our mindset and becoming the person we want to be.

This is one of the reasons I love motivational mantras.  They help me to remember how far I have come.  That I am worthy and that I have done some amazing things.

When I feel myself criticising myself I have started to say these mantra’s, because I am worthy of success.  Just like you are.

What is your favourite mantra?

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How we view a situation can make a huge difference

I have taught adults for over 20 years. I started out answering questions my colleagues had, they pushed me to become a trainer at a training company, then I went freelance in 2001 and work on projects where new software is being upgraded, updated, implemented or new features and processes introduced.

Sound boring?

I love seeing how people go from dreading the change to being able to work better than they did before.  This past week I have been training people on a new process as well as answering questions in two countries about the process I am training them how to use.  This has reminded me of what I have learned over 20 years.

The people who go into the process who have negative thoughts about it have a harder time then those who do not.  Even those who are resigned have an easier time.  This shows how your thoughts towards change can make a huge difference.

When I started new diets I would think of it as a chore, dread doing it but think that it was temporary and something that I had to “put up with”.  

One day I realised that I was WRONG!

I needed to stop thinking that I had to have a temporary change, in order to meet my goal I needed to think of it as a lifestyle, making changing that I could live with for the rest of my life.

Healthy food I could love.

Activity I like to do and with people I enjoy being around.

Work I love to do.

This does not mean I don’t have a glass or two of wine, or a piece of chocolate once in a while.  It means my life is more balanced.  When I drink that glass of wine or chocolate I do so slowly and savour it.

I am more thankful of good food and good friends.

How has your thoughts held you back?

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Finding the right motivation

As most people who know me now know, I like to run.  I am not a motivated runner but one who is more of a social runner.  Running with others is great.  Running on my own is not as much fun unless I am in a race where I get a bit of Bling at the end.

Before lockdown I used to run with a wonderful non-competitive running group.  We would meet up and do long runs, the people like me who are turtle runners would be at the back and the faster runners would go ahead then loop back.  

No one would push us to go faster, we were allowed to run at our own pace.

Lockdown changed all that.  

Self motivation.

The keyword became self motivation. For running I am not so good at that.  I am motivated to stay a normal body weight but my runs became more walks and very short.  I made excuses not to go out.

Someone might look at me, worse they might get too close and I could get sick.

I needed to have something to help me.

I was reminded of Virtual medals.

They are amazing motivation tools!  You sign up to them and do your race on your own time.  You need to record the activity, once you have completed the activity send the proof to the virtual medal company and they send you your medal.

Not Just for Running!

They are for walking, running, cycling, swimming and more.  I get such a high opening the envelope and then adding it to my medals.

I feel even better knowing that the virtual medals that I sign up for all give some of the money to charity.  It is like doing a charity event.

So great.

Is there an activity you like to do that you could sign up for a virtual medal?

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Back, knees, and feet do not have to hurt.

A short walk leaves your knees achy and your back sore.  Being larger means that more pressure, weight is on your body.

I remember when I was starting out walking that my knees would hurt for a long time after I stopped.

I wanted to quit but I wanted to be a normal size more.

The hurt had to be good right?


I was walking in the wrong shoes.

My legs had no support or cushioning.  Walking straight n the had surface.

So many people said to put up with the pain and just continue but it just makes you want to give up.  Sit on the sofa instead.

There was a sale on walking shoes.  So I went in and tried what seemed like all of them on.

Would I ever find a pair that were comfortable?  Eventually a wide fitting pair were brought out and they were like walking on a cloud.

I purchased them quickly.  The clerk in the shop said I would have to break them in, even though they were comfortable in the shop to wear them in the house for a day or two before wearing them outside.  Then wearing them for longer trips.

I went home and wore them all evening.

They were great so I wore them to go to work the next day.

Too much and they rubbed a bit, I got a blister but I was used to those so I put on some compeed and continued.

After a week they were comfortable the whole time I wore them.  My knees were less painful, my back didn’t scream for me to stop.

The right shoes made a huge diffference!

What I have learned since is that sometimes shoes can seem great in the shop but you need to wear them in a bit to see if they are really any good.  Wear them around the house so there is no wear and tear and you can return them if they are not good, or buy on sale.

Some peoples feet prefer solid, inflexible shoes, other people prefer flexible sock like shoes.  I used to think that it was normal to get blisters every time I went for a walk.  Then one day I bought a new type of running shoes and only have blisters very rarely.  Do try other style of shoes out if you get blisters.

The right shoe is amazing!

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Ready to bloom

Let yourself bloom.

Hiding away and not letting the world see the real you.  How you really feel. Like a flower hidden behind a bush, not reaching for the sun but hiding.

Your smile is your armour rather than showing true joy. You deserve more.

I was like that.  I used my smile like a shield. Not showing how I really felt.  Not really experiencing much happiness.  Hiding the real me, even from myself.  Telling myself that work was everything, that someday I would live how I wanted to live.

Decide to be happy.

One day I made a decision to start doing things that made me happy.  Not to wait until that far off time when life was going to be perfect, but now.

I went out and did the activities I wanted to do, saw sites and had experiences.  

Started living, rather than existing,

Became happy.

That was when I started to bloom.  People made comments about how great I looked, had I lost weight, at that point, no. But the more I started living the life I wanted to live the happier I was and the weight started to come off.

I was not the flower hiding beside the bushes scared of the sun, but a flower reaching for the sun.

What can you do today to start living your life how you want to?